Alt c 11-09-08-a pike-nonotes
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  • 1. Investigating the Digital Divide for the HE Distance Learners in Prison Anne Pike Alt-C Conference 9-11 th September 2008
  • 2. Aims of the Research
    • To investigate the experiences of the Open University student in a prison environment
    • To determine what influences students to embark on an Open University course
    • To understand how technology, is affecting their learning, choice of study and future decisions
  • 3. Methodology
    • Interviews/Questionnaires
      • 35 prison students (33 male, 2 female)
      • 56 staff (OU, prison, stakeholders)
    • Prisons
      • Cat A – D,
      • Male & female
      • public, private
    • Ongoing
  • 4. Educational Qualifications before entering prison
  • 5. Decision to study with the OU
    • Completed all other education – next step
    • Through a friend already studying
    • Always wanted to study with the Open University
    • Use time usefully
    • Influence from an important person
  • 6.
    • “ P kept following me, insisting on more and more exams. I told him I couldn’t do it. He said I had the potential. …P was like a father to me - I still remember him.”
    • [10, 28]
    “ I have no-one outside to write to but I would like M and P to come if possible.” [10, 28]
  • 7. Support
    • Dedicated staff both internal and external to the OU
    • Insufficient resources, funding or policy to adequately meet the needs of the OU students
    “… They [the tutors] fired my imagination… the astronomy tutor was brilliant – looked like a biker with pictures of telescopes, stars. He made the subject come alive” [5, 4].
  • 8. Benefits of HE for Offenders
    • Confidence – can study, stay the course, succeed
    • (student comments)
    • “ If I’d been on the outside I’d never have done this
    • … I want to do a degree now ….and use my time usefully.”
    • “ I built up confidence and pushed forward then I just took off ”
    • Empowerment – being a student, new knowledge, options
    • “ W hen you have a laptop it’s wonderful … It makes
    • you feel like you’re really a student ” (Female student (closed))
    • “ For the first time in my life I know what I want to do”
    • (Social Science Student)
    • “ Education gives you the option to stop re-offending”
    • (Male Student – close to release)
  • 9.
    • A new direction
    • “ I started the Open to Change course
    • because I wanted to see where life
    • had gone wrong”
    Benefits of HE for Offenders A mission “ It’s like the university of life here, you meet just the biggest cross section of people from every sort of background. I want them to have education too… I’m doing [a] Mental Health [course] now..I want to teach people with autism”
  • 10.
    • Gaining Employment
    • Northern Ireland - MLA
    • Guardian Columnist
    • Lecturers – PGCEs and Higher degrees after release
    • Own business
    • Senior roles with Charities working with
    • Offender and Ex-Offender
    • But….
    Benefits of HE for Offenders “ We must educate them to the right level… for employment they need to be better than the average” (HoLS)
  • 11. ICTs in prison: the challenge
  • 12. Digital Divide for Offender Learners
    • Access to IT – attitude, control
    • “ there’s no point in rehabilitating if you don’t know modern technology” (student)
    • Internet Access - safety, public perception
    • “ [without internet access] even relatively ‘media-rich’ institutions still feel profoundly isolated from the wider society ” Jewkes (2007)
    • Course Choice
    • “ I can’t get the degree that I wanted … all the courses are needing internet access now”
    • Access to the OU site
    • “ I have access to my own material but not the
    • OU library. … I have access to all the University Libraries
    • in the world except the OU.”
  • 13. Back
  • 14. Bridging the Digital Divide
    • University for Industry(UfI): Learndirect
    • Programme of Offender Learning and Resettlement Information Services ( POLARIS)
      • – 8 prisons in London, many now live. Openlearn provided. Conflict with Virtual Campus
    • Virtual Campus Trials
      • 2 test beds (West Midlands, Eastern). LSC run.
    • Intranets – Whitemoor WW
  • 15. Main areas of concern
    • Prison: Poor media and public perception. Main purpose of prison to protect the public. Need to raise awareness of the benefits of HE
    • Pedagogy: Unique prison culture and environment – need an adapted pedagogy which effectively identifies this – informal and formal learning links, role of prison officer, staff training
    • Technology: Appropriate use of modern technologies and the internet. Safe platforms exist but connectivity slow. Flexibility in program design, campus models the way forward.
  • 16. Prison
    • Much media coverage and academic writing invite us to view the ‘inadequate person’ not the ‘positive qualities and potential’
    • Education occupies contested space within the prison regime
    • How do we nurture a society which believes that prisoners can change?
    • Provide role models of prisoners ‘made good’
    • Quantitative research required exploring links between HE and reduced recidivism
    • 3-5% of European prisoners could undertake HE
    • (Callejo & Viedma, 2007).
    • Targets of just 2%, where possible, may provide
    • prison managers with a more compelling reason to
    • adopt HE (study group)
    Prisons can be described as ‘human dustbins’ (Parkinson, 1997)
  • 17. Pedagogy
    • Offender Education extremely demanding
    • Dearth of practical information
    • Initial induction and training for new educators
    • Day-to-day running of prison dependent on the good will of prison officers
    • Students’ view prison officers as ‘indifferent’ or ‘obstructive’ (Pike, 2007)
    • Prison officers have untapped interest in learning and
    • resent offender learning opportunities
    • (Irwin & Wilson, 2008)
    • Provide prison officers with easier access to HE
    • and develop their role to allow more participation in
    • the rehabilitation of offenders
  • 18. Technology
    • In 9 countries, 90% of prison HE students found computers and internet access inadequate or very inadequate ( Callejo & Viedma, 2007)
    • Fears around using technology in prison should be clearly identified and addressed (Mitra, 2008)
    • We need flexible learning programmes which use modern technologies and web access but allow for variability in the short term
    • Campus models of education in prison, either physical or virtual, may encourage communities of practice by all learners in prison, including staff
    • Linked e-learning networks could encourage the trial of
    • virtual spaces and develop distance education in other
    • languages
  • 19. Anne Pike COLMSCT CETL Fellow & Offender Learning Coordinator The Open University [email_address]